Many groups, families and organizations have a fight song; a tune that is played in locker rooms and at gatherings to motivate the team, and becomes the war cry for the alliance. It is usually a song like Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” or “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. You would never suspect that Irving Berlin would be listed as a tune to inspire troops as they go into battle.
However, in the case of McLaren in motorsports, the long-standing rivalry with Ferrari has always been a point of contention. A thorn in their flesh so piercing that is caused them to take a perfectly good MP4-12C, make it a 12C (especially amid all the vacuum cleaner and photocopier jokes) and now, bring forth the 650S: a car that allows us to consider a Berlin song in perspective.
It was Gordon Murray who peered over the balcony and saw Ferrari’s venomous F40, tapped Ron Dennis on the shoulder and said: “…we could do that” and they did — better. Hence was born the 231mph McLaren F1; a car that stunned crowds and angered Enzo. Ferrari sat back and snatched a handful of World Championships while calculating their next move. McLaren was to, once again, produce the perfect car. Alas, in 2010, the 458 Italia would reduce them to play second fiddle. A further slap in the face was the 458 Speciale, a challenge which the boys in Woking didn’t take too kindly.
Now, three years, two upgrades and a Spider later, we have McLaren’s road-going retaliation: the new McLaren 650S. A mid-mounted 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 making 641 horsepower (a bump up from 616) propels the new car, which has been previewd to the press ahead of the Geneva Show. If past performance figures are any indication, the 650S will be a swift opponent to Maranello’s poster child and a much improved performer over the 12C.
Increased downforce comes by way of a P1-style front end. A new front spoiler and smoother, rounder front edges retain the car’s 0.36 drag coefficient. The new front splitter is said to improve agility and handling as well. The Air-brake no longer waits for a certain speed to deploy, but when the council of in-car computers gives the go-ahead, it rises to the occasion.
A new song is probably being played in the halls of McLaren’s HQ and it never sounded sweeter. The builders of the new 650S are on the line whistling the tune “Anything you can do, I can do better….” That seems to be the goal of the 650S, to out-do Ferrari once again.